Pros And Cons Of Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are what’s known as essential fats because they are essential for human life. In the human body, omega-3 fatty acids account for an integral part of our cell membranes and they affect how the cell receptors in these membranes perform and how well they regulate genetic function. Fatty acids are also important for blood clotting, controlling inflammation, and for the contraction and relaxation of artery walls.

The problem is, the human body is incapable of making most fatty acids. We can only get them through our diet from foods like cold-water fish, nuts, leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are also available in supplement form (fish oil) and they’re regularly prescribed by doctors to help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Fish oil has also been shown to have beneficial results in patients with depression, ADHD, lupus, eczema, menstrual pain, Raynaud Syndrome, and/or rheumatoid arthritis.

Pros-and-cons-of-fish-oil

What to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If you purchase over-the-counter fish oil capsules, it is important to understand what type of omega-3 fatty acids you are taking because not all omega-3s are the same. There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids - docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), although only DHA and EPA are used in fish oil capsules. Because they are derived from fish and certain types of algae, they’re often referred to as “marine omega-3s.” ALA fatty acids, on the other hand, are those that are most commonly found in foods. This type is used by the body predominantly as an energy resource.

Of the three, EPA is the most important for reducing cellular inflammation. The reason it works is because it helps prevent the production of arachidonic acid (AA), an omega-6 fatty acid that produces inflammation-causing eicosanoids. In comparison, EPA has the same effect on inflammatory mechanisms as corticosteroids. Having the adequate amount of EPA in your body enables you to enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits of corticosteroids, but without the needle and side effects.

DHA is an important structural and functional fat that is found in the brain, eyes, and in the tissue of the heart and cardiovascular system. The body can only make small amounts of DHA, so external sources are required to improve its amount in the body. Breast milk naturally contains DHA because an infant needs the fatty acid for their brain, eyes, and nervous system to develop properly. For this reason, DHA is also added to many infant formulas.

 

Pros of Fish Oil

Fish oil has been shown to provide the body with several key benefits, including:

  • Lowers triglycerides (often prescribed with a statin for better results)
  • Raises the level of HDL “good” cholesterol in the body
  • Lowers homocysteine in the body
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Slows the progression of atherosclerosis
  • Relieves dry eye symptoms
  • Protects against age-related eye diseases, including macular degeneration
  • Helps improve the efficacy of anti-depressant medications

 

Cons of Fish Oil

As important as omega-3 fatty acids are, not everyone should take them in their fish oil supplement form. Some of the negative aspects of fish oil supplements include:

  • Thins the blood (should avoid in people already on blood thinning medications)
  • Lowers the blood pressure (should avoid in people with existing low blood pressure or taking blood pressure medication)
  • Fishy burp can be unpleasant for some users (better tolerated when taken with food)
  • Diarrhea can develop if more than 3 grams of fish oil is taken per day
  • It is important to note that these effects mostly occur with the supplement forms of fish oil, not the dietary forms.

 

Talking to Your Doctor About Fish Oil

Whether you choose EPA or DHA fish oil capsules depends on the reason why your doctor wants you to take them in the first place. Never start a supplement without first consulting your doctor, even one that has more pros than cons, like fish oil. When taken properly, fish oil can help relieve inflammation and make you healthier, but only if are not susceptible to its potentially negative side effects.

 

 

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